Thursday, June 30, 2011

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.” (Darth, on covert cop apps.)

Smartphones are impressive devices, to say the least. A smartphone user can consume TV, music & movies; communicate via streaming video; check the weather; record audio; take professional quality video footage; snap high quality photos… The list just continues to grow and grow. With all of these incredible capabilities, why not add surveillance?

A recent article over at the Atlantic highlights a fascinating project by 23-year-old hacker Rich Jones. CopRecorder (iPhone) and OpenWatch (Android) are part of an experiment Jones describes as "a global participatory counter-surveillance project which uses cellular phones as a way of monitoring authority figures." In short, CopRecorder and Openwatch are apps that covertly record audio during encounters with authority figures, enabling the user to submit the audio anonymously to the OpenWatch site.

Here's a brief explanation of the project (plus instructions for installation): (more)

...and then they bought Skype. Your tax dollars at work?

 The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a Microsoft patent application that reaches back to December 2009 and describes “recording agents” to legally intercept VoIP phone calls.

The “Legal Interceptpatent application is one of Microsoft’s more elaborate and detailed patent papers, which is comprehensive enough to make you think twice about the use of VoIP audio and video communications. The document provides Microsoft’s idea about the nature, positioning and feature set of recording agents that silently record the communication between two or more parties.

The patent was filed well before Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype and there is no reason to believe that the patent was filed with Skype as a Microsoft property in mind. [Other than governments worldwide might pay a bundle to be able to eavesdrop on Skype calls.] However, the patent mentions Skype explicitly as an example application for this technology and Microsoft may now have to answer questions in which way this patent applies to its new Skype entity and if the technology will become part of Skype. (more)

Korean Broadcasting & Communications Committee Fears Bugging

Korea - Rep. Kim Jae-yoon (right), the main opposition Democratic Party’s chief secretary at the National Assembly’s Culture, Sports, Tourism Broadcasting and Communication Committee, and the party`s floor spokesman Hong Young-pyo submit Sunday documents to Yeongdeungpo Police Station. The party seeks a police probe into suspected eavesdropping into the party chief’s office in parliament. (more)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thus making Fritz the butt of some "you sound a little tinny" jokes.

A German chemicals company said on Monday its managers have begun keeping their mobile phones in biscuit tins during meetings in order to guard against industrial espionage.

"Experts have told us that mobile phones are being eavesdropped on more and more, even when they are switched off," Alexandra Boy, spokeswoman for Essen-based specialty chemicals maker Evonik, told AFP.

"The measure applies mostly when sensitive issues are being discussed, for the most part in research and development," she said, confirming a report in business weekly Wirtschaftswoche.

Biscuit tins have a so-called Farraday cage effect, she said, blocking out electromagnetic radiation and therefore preventing people from hacking into mobile phones, not only for calls but also to get hold of emails. (more) (sing-a-long)

Actually, this is a fairly good MacGyver on their part. However, professional enclosures with padding and internal white noise generators are also available.

A Microsoft Wiretap Patent...

...what could possible go wrong?
Microsoft has been granted a patent for technology that acts as a wiretap of sorts for Internet communication, allowing governments or other law-enforcement authorities to record the data without detection.

Dubbed "Legal Intercept," using the technology means "data associated with a request to establish a communication is modified to cause the communication to be established via a path that includes a recording agent" that silently records the data, according to a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In other words, the technology intercepts Internet communications data so it can be recorded for the purposes of reviewing it later by, presumably, government or law-enforcement officials.

"Sometimes, a government or one of its agencies may need to monitor communications between telephone users," Microsoft said in the filing, describing how a recording device can be placed at a central office to record communications over a traditional telephone network.

But with Voice over IP and other Internet-based communications, "the [conventional] model for recording communications does not work," according to Microsoft. (more)

China Opens Chain of Spy Schools

Last week, China opened its eighth National Intelligence College on the campus of Hunan University in the central city of Changsha. Since January, similar training schools have opened inside universities in Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Qingdao and Harbin.

The move comes amid growing worries in the West at the scale and breadth of Chinese intelligence-gathering, with MI5 saying that the Chinese government "represents one of the most significant espionage threats to the UK"...

The new schools aim to transform and modernize the Chinese intelligence services, producing spies who are trained in the latest methods of data collection and analysis. Each school will recruit around 30 to 50 carefully-selected existing undergraduates each year...

The United States has a similar project, named the National Security Education Program (more)

Beef Board Admits CEO Eavesdropped on Conference Calls

The Cattleman's Beef Board has admitted its CEO eavesdropped on conference calls between the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and members of the Federation of State Beef Councils...

The response to NCBA states that Ramey admitted to repeatedly listening in unannounced to NCBA-organized conference calls with state beef council executives, and that he listened to a recording of one of those calls...

Ramey eavesdropped on conference calls during the time NCBA was working to restructure its board, which could have impacted the Federation of State Beef Councils and decisions on checkoff allocations, said Lynn Heinze, Beef Board vice president of communications. (more)

N.B. See this story. ~Kevin

Monday, June 27, 2011

When Board Members Phone It In - One Anti-Eavesdropping Solution

Click to enlarge.
Problem 1: Conference calls very often contain highly confidential and sensitive information – such as Board and Executive Management Team calls, Intellectual Property discussions, high value business deal talks, or crisis management calls. 
Problem 2: Traditional conference bridges make it difficult to control who is on a call. Long lived PINs are often distributed freely, making conference calls easy to access by unauthorized parties such as ex-employees.

Cellcrypt Secure Conference Service™ is a solution for extra-secure access and encrypted calling within a secure conference bridge, accessible from cell phones.
Cellcrypt secure conference calling uses strong cryptographic authentication in combination with pre-defined phone numbers to ensure that only authorized phones can join. The service has an easy-to use web-based management console for setting up any number of bridges with eligible participants defined using a white list policy.

An optional policy setting enables eligible participants to gain access to the bridge from a standard phone, if required, using a pre-defined phone number and PIN. This allows an administrator to mix unencrypted calls from selected phones over the public telephone network with secure calls from other locations where calling is a concern. (more)

An Invention Which Will Drive Bats Bats... Submarine Sonar too!

Scientists have shown off a "cloaking device" that makes objects invisible - to sound waves.

It uses simple plastic sheets with arrays of holes, and could be put to use in making ships invisible to sonar or in acoustic design of concert halls.

Much research has been undertaken toward creating Harry Potter-style "invisibility cloaks" since the feasibility of the idea was first put forward in 2006.

Those approaches are mostly based on so-called metamaterials, man-made materials with properties that do not occur in nature. The metamaterials are designed such that they force light waves to travel around an object; to an observer, it is as if the object were not there.

But researchers quickly found out that the mathematics behind bending these light waves, called transformation optics, could also be applied to sound waves. (more)

Note: This naturally occurs in humans between the ages of 2-20.

The Tapping Policeman

Prague - The policeman who gained access to wiretapping of influential people's mobile phones managed to circumvent "all control mechanisms" that are to prevent such situations, Czech Police President Petr Lessy said...

The policeman from Varnsdorf, north Bohemia, is suspected of having fraudulently monitored the recordings of wiretapped phone calls of influential judges, officials, journalists and lobbyists, including Klaus's chancellor Jiri Weigl and secretary Ladislav Jakl and Constitutional Court chairman Pavel Rychetsky. (more)

Update: Porta-Potty Peeper Pinched... Pewwwww!

CO - A man has been dubbed the "Porta-Potty Peeper" after he hid in the tank of a portable toilet.

"I was at the yoga festival, doing a little bit of yoga, and I’m just seeing all these goddesses," Luke Chrisco, who said he is a voyeur and not a rapist, told FOX31 Denver. "It seems crazy, but I just felt like I was being blessed by their energy, even though it was unintentional."

Chrisco, 30, added the idea of waiting in a tank of waste and urine to spy on women at the yoga festival in Boulder, Colorado, didn’t bother him.

"There’s bacteria in there, but to me it’s just normal ... we all have bodily fluids,” he said. “It seems terrible, but it didn’t actually smell that bad or anything. I still would have done it even if it smelled a little weird, because where there is muck, there is gold."

Police believe Chrisco has spied on at least 200 women in Boulder and hundreds more across the US and Europe. (more)

Spying on Employees Allowed - Fark: Duty Manager Gets Off

New Zealand - A law change has made it legal to install secret cameras to spy on workers, and companies are employing private detectives to do so.

But Wellington International Airport has fallen foul of the Employment Relations Authority for using a private investigator to install cameras to spy on the sexual activities of a manager before the law was changed.

The airport recordings caught duty manager Dieter Ravnjak engaged in "sexual activity" with a woman in an emergency management room and he was dismissed for serious misconduct.

The cameras were installed by private investigator Cedric Hardiman, who also managed the airport's taxi and parking facilities.

At the time, the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act prohibited investigators from making recordings without the consent of the person recorded – in effect banning secret recordings. (more)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Keep Android Apps From Spying on You

A security researcher has released an Android app that allows users to control precisely what information they share with other programs installed on their smartphones.

The latest version of WhisperCore remedies a shortcoming of the Google mobile operating system that has vexed users since its release: a design that often forces them to share their precise location or unique phone identifier with app developers even when the sensitive information has nothing to do with the service being offered. (more)

Corporate Espionage is on the Rise in South Africa

Etienne Labuschagne, Director, SpyCatcher SA...

"Devices that used to be the preserve of Q from the James Bond movies, are now easily available in the street for a few hundred rand," said Labuschagne, speaking at the ITWeb Security Summit yesterday.

"Surveillance and counter-surveillance are not only part of the shadowy worlds of politics and international relations."

"Surveillance is not what it used to be – mobile phones can be bugged very easily. You can be sent a simple SMS asking you to update a service, and as soon as you open the link, surveillance software can be installed on your phone without your knowledge.

“Such software can allow the person behind it to call your phone, without it ringing, and allow them to listen directly to you and your surroundings." (more)

Da da da da da da da da, Scatman!

Police Artist Sketch

Police said a suspected peeping tom is still on the loose after he was caught spying on women inside a portable bathroom. During a festival, a woman told police she went inside the port-a-potty and was shocked after lifting up the toilet seat.

A security official was called over and waited for the suspect to come out. Police are not sure how long the man was in there, but when he came out, he was covered in waste. He ran and nobody grabbed him. (more with video)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

HD DVR Sunglasses for Cops - "I see you respect my authoritaah."

WA - The Snohomish Police are trying out some new personal video recorders Wednesday at the eye care center...

China has developed a pair of eyeglasses that can record HD video. The Chief was very tight lipped about what exactly they would be getting but did say the first group would be getting them tomorrow thanks to the new police guild who has helped raise money for this.

This may be close to what the police could be receiving as eyewear DVRs...

Micro Spycam - "12 MP pinhole cameras are capable of capturing photographs at professional level resolution. The camera device is incredibly tiny and perfect for spy application as well. Disguised as regular sunglasses you can record situations without anybody around you knowing or aware they are being recorded."

Video Quality: "High quality professional grade video recording HD 1280x720 (720P) video with Sound at 30fps (Frames Per Second) makes a very smooth recording." (more)

Ever wonder just how many types of HD video sunglasses are available? Check here.

India Home Minister Accused of Planting Bugging Devices

India - Janata Party leader Subramaniam Swamy has joined the bugging debate, accusing Home Minister P. Chidambaram of planting devices in Finance Minister Pranab Mukhejee's room at the behest of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Meanwhile, the BJP has also demanded a "complete probe" into the issue. (more)

Book review: Surveillance or Security?

"Over the last 20 years or so, there have been intermittent moves by the EU and the UK government to implement various levels of online surveillance — first by requiring ISPs to install equipment to facilitate wiretapping, and second by storing the masses of communications data created by all of us.

But, argues Susan Landau, a former Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems, now a fellow at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, you can't build surveillance into networks without also poking some very serious security holes in them. Unlike the telephone network, which was built for control, the internet was built with very different goals in mind: information sharing, bandwidth sharing and robustness in the event of generalised attacks. Or, as Landau quotes former NSA director Brian Snow as saying, the internet was designed 'assuming random malice rather than targeted attacks'." (more)

This Week in World Spy News

Egypt - An Egyptian judicial official said yesterday that the prosecution does not plan to prosecute an American-Israeli man who was arrested in Cairo and accused of spying for Israel. (more)

USA - A Michigan professor called on Congress to investigate the government's alleged spying on him to discredit his blogging about the Iraq war. (more)

UK - While serving time under house arrest in an East Anglian home in the UK, those close to Julian Assange have claimed the British government are spying on him.
It follows the discovery of three CCTV cameras erected outside his temporary home at Ellingham Hall in the county of Norfolk. (more)

Thailand - Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has admitted that the suspected leader of three men arrested for alleged spying on the Thai-Cambodian border has managed to flee the country. (more)

Lebanon - Druze politician Wiam Wahhab denied Thursday that a man charged with spying for Israel was his personal bodyguard. (more)
Sweden - Over fifteen countries are systematically conducting intelligence operations against Sweden, in Sweden or against Swedish interests overseas, according to security service S├Ąpo. (more)

Mexico - Admiral Sergio Javier Lara Montellano, commander of the VIII Naval Region based in Acapulco, said that city police cameras...were aimed at various points inside the military installation. He affirmed that information on movements of the military thus obtained was leaked to organized crime groups. “The information was disseminated to crime groups by taxi drivers who serve as informants and by corrupt police in both the traffic police and in crime prevention,” he said. (more)

Austria - An idyllic Austrian village has apparently impressed Chinese architects so much that they have decided to copy it in their own country. But the townspeople living in the UNESCO World Heritage site are unhappy about the plans. This isn't the first time this sort of copying has occurred. China has also replicated amongst other places, Thames Town. (more)

India - The report that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s conversations may have been tapped by sticking secret electronic devices in his chambers and that of his staff is a chilling reminder that Big Money now operates so close to the centres of power. ...the bugging devices were first discovered on September 4, 2010, when the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) swept Mukherjee’s office to check for eavesdropping gadgets, and found “plantable adhesive substances”. Translated, it means devices that can monitor conversations could have been stuck to these adhesives, including chewing gum-like stickies. (more)

Canada (Toronto International Airport) - An employee used surveillance equipment to spy on her ex-husband as he walked through the terminal with his girlfriend and kids. A man filed a complaint to the federal privacy commissioner after he discovered that his ex-wife, whose job it is to monitor the flow of traffic at Toronto Pearson International Airport using surveillance equipment, was using her special access to track him through the airport. (more)

How to Obtain a U.S. Government Security Clearance - Free Booklet

"Use our Security Clearance Handbook to boost your cyber career. Cyber security professionals can help secure the United States and secure their own futures with a security clearance. As reported in the Washington Post, the Federal Government and contractors face an accelerating demand for cleared cyber security professionals. To help you get cleared and stay cleared, the University of Fairfax is offering a complimentary Security Clearance Handbook.

Click here to get your free copy of the Security Clearance Handbook.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Business Phone Conversations Latest Target for Eavesdropping: News Report

Business executives may be the latest group to be targeted by eavesdropping of phone conversations, according to news reports.

Reuters said that business executives who have “sensitive information” could be the new group targeted for eavesdropping. Earlier it was politicians, actors and athletes.

Business executives may talk on cell phones to save time during their busy days, with sensitive information exchanged during the conversations.

“We are seeing a growing tension between organizational security requirements and personal convenience requirements with people often discussing sensitive issues on mobile phones to get their jobs done faster or because they have no other practical choice,” Cellcrypt CEO Richard Greco (News - Alert) told Reuters. (more)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Free Poster - Maps Worldwide Radio Spectrum Allocations

Very few engineers can recite worldwide RF spectrum allocations from memory. For the rest of us, Tektronix’ color-coded poster maps out every ITU regional allocation in clear graphical form. It also explains the benefits of Live RF and frequency-domain triggering in radio-satellite communication and spectrum management applications. Download your free poster today! (more)

While you are at it, check out the Number One slot under their "Most frequently downloaded application notes." Hey, that's us! Also, free. (more)

You can read the complete Tektronix, June 2011, Test and Measurement News here.

Coffee Unlike the Starstrucks Kind

There was a time when a nickle of joe was all one could get. The Europeans even had a joke about it. "Why is American coffee like making love in the bottom of a boat?" (Contact me directly for the rude punch line if you don't know it.)

Tinted water. Blaaaach, pewey!
Then came the hard stuff in all its rocky Italian stallion iterations. We loved it... but secretly we all knew it was over the top. Given no other choices, we stayed starstruck.

So, I'm in my local wine shop the other day. Andrea, the proprietress, says, "Try this, you'll love it!" (She is right 98% of the time.) But, instead of a bottle of wine, she hands over a black bag—filled with coffee beans. I take it home, set it aside until the starstrucks is exhausted from the old A-9 grinder. Yesterday, I fill the mill with the new black gold. Ten minutes later, I am sipping what coffee should have tasted like all along. Smooth, mellow, aromatic and delicious... and that's without milk or sugar.

I only recall having this experience once before (in 2001) when a security director friend asked his mother to bring back a pound of coffee for me, from a small plantation in Costa Rica. 

Later in the morning, I am at my town post office. Serendipity. Another patron walks in and hands the postmaster–a black bag filled with coffee beans. They begin talking coffee. I pipe up with, "I just tried that for the first time this morning. You'll like it." Surprise. It turns out the coffee company is located in my tiny town! And, the other postal patron, Matt, is a partner in the company. We kept talking.

Did you know, the darker the roasted beans, the less caffeine they have? Seriously, no java jive. Turns out the lighter colored roasted beans are the ones you want with breakfast. Heavy roasting brings out the oils and dissipates the caffeine. I also learn that Matt specializes in organic beans, some from super small-yield estates—like the kind my friend, Ted gave me ten years ago!

Ok, I'll spill the beans. If you are interested in getting better mocha java lava into your vena cava (and other veins) visit a Fair Trade USA certified coffee partner and look for their organic products. The coffee in my black bag came from Black River Roasters. Real java-heads, however, will want to grow their own. Buy your own plantation!

So... what does this have to do with spies and electronic surveillance? Nothing, not even the black bag reference. Sometimes one just has to take a coffee break from the world of espionage and reflect on the good things in life. ~Kevin

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rupert Murdoch's Newspapers Are Spying On... Each Other

Well, the whole News Of The World phone-hacking scandal just took a rather amusing turn.

The Independent reports that Rebekah Brooks, former editor of The Sun, was one of the victims. Private detective Glenn Mulcaire, working on behalf of News reporters, hacked her phone "more than 20 times."

Considering the big names in the story -- Sienna Miller, Jude Law, etc. -- Brooks, a relatively minor figure, wouldn't normally be news. Except that in addition to editing The Sun, Brooks previously served as an editor at NotW, the very paper accused of spying on her. (more)

Weird Book Promotion Offers Up Spying Devices as Prizes

via The Mirror...
UK - "To celebrate the book release of Private London by James Patterson, we have the ultimate gadget package up for grabs.

Our prize includes a state-of-the-art Nokia mobile handset worth £595, which records all messages and calls with a device which can be listened to from another phone, a Sony digital radio which has a surveillance camera and sound recorder, a keyboard with bugging device, a voice recorder disguised as a USB stick and a mains adapter with a bugging device that can listen to the surrounding sound in room - which can be listened to live from anywhere in the world. This is the ultimate spy package for any budding investigator, and has all the gadgets they need to mimic their spy idols such as Dan Carter in Private London.

Our winner will also get a copy of Private London which follows Dan Carter, the head of the London office of Private, the world's largest and most technologically advanced investigation agency." (more)

Why is this newsworthy?
It points out that electronic eavesdropping laws and attitudes in the rest of the world are not quite the same as in the United States. We advise our clients of this, and once in while a very good example comes along which emphasizes the point.

New Feature in iPhone iOS5 - Unsecured Call Alert

New in iOS 5 is the Unsecured Call alert. This new feature of iOS 5 actually issues a popup alert when you receive an incoming call from an unrecognized number or from a blocked caller ID. 

Here’s what appears on the iPhone screen as a consequence: Unsecured Call : The cellular network you are using is not encrypted. This call can be intercepted by unauthorized listeners.

The science behind this new feature is the fact that hacks and security breaches can actually make listening in on to your phone calls possible, bringing in use, IMSI catcher, a fake GSM cell tower.

It’s a genuine problem with all GSM phones... (more)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Report: Chinese Government Installs Bugs in Hong Kong Cars

Beijing is allegedly using audio spying devices on dual-plate Chinese-Hong Kong vehicles to gather information.

Apple Daily reports the eavesdropping devices were originally installed under the name "inspection and quarantine cards” back in July 2007. The Shenzhen Inspection and Quarantine Bureau installed the devices free of charge to thousands of vehicles across Hong Kong.

The devices are about the size of a PDA, screwed into the car’s front window. 

People in Hong Kong, in particular criminals, began to notice something was awry when the authorities were able to pick out cars carrying illegal goods across borders without problem or hesitation.

"For every ten cars we ran we only had [smuggled goods] in three or four to reduce the risk, but the border agents caught all of them. The accuracy was unreal!" one smuggler told Apple Daily.

Zheng Liming, an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at City University in Hong Kong, took a look at the listening device and determined that it was indeed an eavesdropping device. (more)

CCTV Cufflinks - Wear them to a Far Eastern Embassy when you pick up your Visa

Show your CCTV solidarity with these solid metal mini-peeper cufflinks. You never know, once there you might be featured on CCTV news, shown being lead away in a pair of official cufflinks. (more)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ingenious & Insidious - Power Cord Hidden Camera

The Power Cord Hidden Camera is an inconspicuous camera housed in a standard-looking power cord that sits on your desk and records everything that happens while you're gone. 

Its slim, sleek and discreet design doesn't draw any extra attention. 

The device looks like an ordinary charger or computer cable, so no one will think twice that it's anything other than a loose cable forgotten on your desk.

Simply pair the camera with any of a number of portable DVRs, plug it in, and you're ready to start recording. And, with a built-in motion sensor, you'll only get the footage you need. (more)

Why do I mention it?
So you will know what you're up against.

This Week in World Spy News

Egypt - An alleged Israeli spy arrested in Egypt has been identified by Israeli media as an American citizen who made aliyah in 2005. (more)

Egypt - A former Israeli military officer was questioned by Egyptian authorities Sunday and detained for 15 days on suspicion of spying for Israel, according to a spokesman for Egypt's general prosecutor. (Probably same as above but with a different last name reported... interesting.) (more)

Thailand - The government insists it has solid evidence to present to the international community concerning Cambodia's alleged spying along the border. It also rejected Phnom Penh's accusation the spy claims are fabricated to justify aggression against Cambodia. (more)

USA - Did aliens crash a flying saucer in Roswell, New Mexico more than 60 years ago? ...a new book ("Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base") takes a look at Area 51, rekindles debate over both questions - and introduces a Nazi connection to the mix. The book chronicles what happened on that base in the 1940s, '50s and '60s -- she spent years interviewing those who worked there. "They're kind of a fraternity of formerly secret spies and scientists and spy pilots and engineers, all of whom know one another," Jacobsen observes. They spent most of their lives hiding what they did at work every day. (more)

Germany - For the first time a Chinese agent has been convicted of spying on practitioners of Falun Gong, the meditation and spiritual discipline that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1999 vowed to crush. The guilty party, John Zhou, was given a two-year suspended sentence on June 8, along with a hefty fine. (more)

USA - New spy kit - Internet-to-Go

Pakistan - A US national has been arrested for allegedly scouting nuclear facilities near the Pakistani capital and is expected to be deported soon as the Interior Ministry has already cancelled his visa. Matthew Craig Barrett, 27, was remanded to judicial custody for 14 days by a court in Islamabad. (more

Eritrea - Four Britons held in Eritrea on spying and terrorism charges since December have been released, the Foreign Office (FCO) has said.

The four men - who all worked for the same security firm - are believed to be on their way back to the UK. (more)

Spain - Jose Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes denies 'spying' on Barcelona for Real Madrid. The Fifa agent, whose clients also include Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria, claims he has done nothing wrong after reports of espionage in the Spanish press. (more)

USA - Former CIA counterterrorism officer Philip Giraldi is on a mission. He says he wants to expose how costly and dangerous Israeli espionage is to the United States. Giraldi is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest Foundation which just released a 12 page overview called The Spy Who Loves Us. He says Israel conducts more espionage against America than any other US ally... Israel profits from selling US technology... Israeli spying has bankrupted some American companies. (more)

USA - Former National Security Agency exec Thomas Drake has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of exceeding authorized use of a computer. Drake had been facing trial on Espionage Act charges... Drake was under fire for allegedly passing along classified documents to a newspaper reporter about an ill-fated NSA program. (more)
Drake to NSA, "Be seeing you."

Affordable spying – for all...
Surveillance gadgets such as Mark Kennedy's 'spy watch' are now within the reach of ordinary citizens (more)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Weird SpyCam App Pitch of the Day

from the app seller's web site...
"SECURET SpyCam 1.5.4 helps you to turn your android phone camera or webcam into a visual motion triggered Spycam. Your device will automatically capture any motion being occurred in your area and saves it. You may spy on your friends to avoid some problems. Also it helps to arrest Criminals or thieves." (more)

Why do I mention it.
So you will know what you are up against.

High Flying Lowe's Intelligence Aerostat Corp 150 Years Old Today

Long before Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance became a buzz phrase or acronym (ISR), Civil War-era inventor Thaddeus Lowe came up with the idea of taking to the skies to spy on the enemy.

Lowe pitched President Abraham Lincoln on the idea of balloon reconnaissance 150 years ago tomorrow, which led to formation of the Union Army Balloon Corps in July 1861, with Lowe carrying the nifty title of "chief aeronaut."

Lowe's simple concept lives on in today's Army, which uses high tech aerostats equipped with cameras and sensors instead of human observers to eyeball the battlefield.

This summer the Army plans to test the ultimate extension of Lowe's balloon-based recon idea with a sensor packed in a football-field long airship. The service has an eye toward deployment in Afghanistan next year. (more) (movie) (book) (book)

"Sorry about that, Chief." (very sorry)

 Leonard Stern, an Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and director whose career in television spanned "The Honeymooners," "Get Smart" and "McMillan & Wife" and whose additional career in publishing included co-creating the classic Mad Libs word game books, has died. He was 88. (more)

99.7 Percent of Android Devices 'Leaking' Data

German researchers have discovered a loophole in Android devices the could potentially leak data if the devices are used over an open Wi-Fi network. According to, authentication codes for Web-based services, like Google Contacts and Google Calendar, are often sent between a phone and Google’s servers unencrypted and in a plain-text format. This means that anyone eavesdropping on the traffic could access information such as a user's contacts library, phone numbers and email addresses.

In a blog post, the researchers say:
Beyond the mere stealing of such information, an adversary could perform subtle changes without the user noticing. For example, an adversary could change the stored email address of the victim's boss or business partners hoping to receive sensitive or confidential material pertaining to their business.

The loophole affects more than 99 percent of Android phones, notes BBC News. However, researchers are not suggesting that attacks are actively exploiting the loophole. Google has not commented on the researchers' discovery. (more)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bugged Xbox Guitar Hero Reveals Killer. (Not Megadeth, a real killer.)

A trusted uncle playing Guitar Hero on an Xbox was the key to extracting information from a suspect in a fatal Saskatoon shooting...

According to testimony from the uncle, the man agreed to secretly record his nephew for police. In exchange for that help, the police agreed to drop an outstanding drinking and driving charge against the uncle.

To record the suspect, police rigged an Xbox game in the uncle's house with a hidden microphone. Then, during a midnight-to-dawn session of the uncle and nephew playing the game Guitar Hero, the youth was recorded giving his account of the shooting. (more)

Mobile Malware - "The genie is out of the bottle."

Amil Klein, CTO at Trusteer, explained how mobile malware has evolved to a stage where it can now bypass most banking security.

Graham Ingram, the general manager of AusCERT, backs this up.

"The genie is out of the bottle. The hardware is there, the software is there, the capability is there ... these guys will turn it around quickly, now. They know what to do, as soon as the reward is there — and it is clearly there — they will move rapidly into it, and I think that is going to shock a few people because we will wake up one morning and it will all be happening."

SpyCam Story #612 - NYC Hidden Camera Alert

Watch yourselves... especially at: pharmacies, home improvement stores, retail stores, museums, landmarks, fast food joints and anything involving tours. 

Locations in New York City are currently being scouted for hidden camera locations for a new TV show. Expect filming all summer long.

Remember Candid Camera? Well, this one is for the next generation. 

You've been warned, but if you get caught we're all going to laugh at you on truTV.

"All right, who called me Bullet Head!?"

There's something a little disturbing about the thought of jamming something that looks like a bullet into your ears, but then again, MUNITO's SITi (Standard Issue Titanium) Nine Millimeter Earphones clearly aren't your grandma's earbuds. 

Not only are their metal bodies modeled after 9 mm shell casings, but their flexible tips are actually trademarked as SiliconeHollowPoints. 

Lest you think that these earphones are all novelty, they do have some half-decent specs. (more)

Memo to self: Replace REI OSCOR Blue headphones with these.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tip: How to recover from a malicious web picture attack

Security researchers have found thousands of photos from searches within the Google Images site that have been infected with malicious code. In many cases, clicking on one of these poisoned images triggers a script that makes it seem like the computer has become infected with viruses. Another Web site pops up trying to wheedle your credit-card number in exchange for fake antivirus software. (more)

Tip: If this happens, just force-quite the application. If you downloaded the photo, trash it.
PC - Press the Control-Shift-Esc keys, then End Task.
MAC - Press the Option-Command-Esc keys, click on the program and click the Force Quit button.

SPYPEDIA Library is On-Line and Open for Business

 SPYPEDIA, is the CI Centre's new counterintelligence and security database. It is a resource of cases, latest news, podcasts, videos, CI calendar events, quotes, reports, and more. SPYPEDIA has been in research and preparation for 15 years.

A continually updated, rich, open source database for professionals in the counterintelligence, security, and counterterrorism disciplines; educators; authors; researchers; academia; students; and all who hold an interest in CI and CT.  

What's Available...
• Search current and archival news links and security trends.
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• Hours of video documenting CI and security lessons, vital issues, key facts, and important cases.
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PA School Laptop SpyCam Lawsuits Keep Coming

(Recap - How it began... Michael and Holly Robbins of Penn Valley, Pa., said they first found out about the alleged spying last November (11/09) after their son Blake was accused by a Harriton High School official of "improper behavior in his home" and shown a photograph taken by his laptop.)

PA - A former student at a suburban Philadelphia high school has sued his school district for allegedly spying on him and his family using a school-issued Mac laptop, according to court documents.

The Lower Merion School District of Ardmore, Pa. was first sued in February 2010 by another student using similar charges. That case, dubbed "Spygate" in some media reports, was settled last October when Lower Merion agreed to pay Blake Robbins $175,000 and cover $425,000 in court costs.

On Monday, Joshua Levin, a 2009 graduate of Herriton High, charged the district with violating his civil rights and privacy by remotely activating the notebook's built-in camera to take photographs and screenshots.

Today, Lower Merion spokesman Doug Young called Levin's lawsuit "solely motivated by monetary interests and a complete waste of the taxpayer's dollars."

Last year, Lower Merion acknowledged it had activated cameras on the school-provided MacBook system to track lost or stolen laptops, but denied it was using them to spy on students.

Levin begged to differ.

According to his lawsuit, Lower Merion used his laptop to take more than 8,000 photographs and screenshots between September 2008 and March 2009. A report commissioned by the district uncovered more than 30,000 photographs and another 27,000 screenshots taken when the tracking and security software was activated by district IT personnel. (more)

SpyCam Story #611 - The Mac Attacker

He was hired to fix their computers, but police say that Trevor Harwell instead installed spyware software that took candid photos of his clients in various states of undress.

Trevor Harwell had been a Macintosh specialist with a Los Angeles-area home computer repair company called Rezitech. That's how he allegedly had the opportunity to install the spy software, called Camcapture, on computers.

While working on repair assignments, the 20-year-old technician secretly set up a complex system that could notify him whenever it was ready to snap a shot using the computer's webcam, according to Sergeant Andrew Goodrich, a spokesman with the Fullerton Police Department in California. "It would let his server know that the victim's machine was on. The server would then notify his smartphone... and then the images were recorded on his home computer," he said.

Police say they've found thousands of images on Harwell's computers and have identified dozens of victims, all of them women in Los Angeles and Orange County. Harwell was arrested Wednesday by Fullerton police.

Harwell was formerly a student at Biola University, a small Christian university in southern California. Many of the victims were Biola students and Harwell may have compromised university systems as well, police said. (more)